Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan issued a statement and video after thousands of flights were canceled across the country on Monday and Tuesday.
His statement said:
"I want everyone who is dealing with the problems we've been facing, whether you haven't been able to get to where you need to go or you’re one of our heroic Employees caught up in a massive effort to stabilize the airline, to know is that we're doing everything we can to return to a normal operation.
And please also hear that I'm truly sorry.
Here's why this giant puzzle is taking us several days to solve. Southwest is the largest carrier in the country, not only because of our value and our values, but because we build our flight schedule around communities, not hubs. So, we're the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S.
Cities where large numbers of scheduled flights simultaneously froze as record bitter cold brought challenges for all airlines.
Our network is highly complex and the operation of the airline counts on all the pieces, especially aircraft and crews remaining in motion to where they're planned to go. With our large fleet of airplanes and flight crews out of position in dozens of locations. And after days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up.
We're focused on safely getting all of the pieces back into position to end this rolling struggle. You know, I have nothing but pride and respect for the efforts of the people of Southwest who are showing up in every way. The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well, 99 percent of the time; but clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what's happening right now.
I'm apologizing to them daily and they'll be hearing more about our specific plans to ensure the challenges that they’ve faced the past few days will not be part of our future.
I reached out to Secretary Buttigieg earlier today to continue the discussions we've been having with the DOT through the holiday - sharing all the things that we're doing to make things right for our Customers.
We always take care of our Customers. And we will lean in and go above and beyond as they would expect us to. Teams are working on all of that: processing refunds, proactively reaching out and taking care of Customers who are dealing with costly detours and reroutes, as just a few examples. Our plan for the next few days is to fly a reduced schedule and reposition our people and planes, and we're making headway, and we're optimistic to be back on track before next week.
We have some real work to do in making this right. For now, I want you to know that we're committed to that."
The statement comes after Southwest canceled almost 2,900 flights on Monday or 70% of their scheduled flights, amid a winter storm that impacted portions of the country, according to FlightAware.com.
Some passengers at Houston's Hobby Airport said consecutive days of canceled Southwest Airlines flights isn’t only an inconvenience, but has brought heartbreak to many who planned to spend the holidays with loved ones, and not stranded in an airport with promises of a refund.
"It’s like this is not real. This can not be happening," says stranded passenger Mario Casasola.